A “peculiar” three-eyed snake was found by park rangers in the Northern Territory of Australia, Science Alert is reporting. Discovered in late March near a small town called Humpty Doo, located just outside of Darwin, the rare, bizarre reptile sported “an abnormal surplus eye sprouting from the top of its scaled forehead,” notes the media outlet.
According to IFL Science, the odd three-eyed critter was a carpet python that the rangers aptly named “Monty.” While the species is known for its impressive size – an adult carpet python can grow up to 13 feet long – Monty was a juvenile and only measured around 16 inches in length. Uncovered by rangers from the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife, the odd “mutant” serpent – as it’s been described by MSN – was believed to be no more than 3-months-old.
Although this is not the first case of congenital malformation found in reptiles, what made Monty so special is the nature of its cranial deformation. Unlike the occasional two-headed snakes that are sometimes spotted in the wild, Monty didn’t owe its curious makeup to an error of design that made it sprout two heads instead of one – a condition known as polycephaly, as noted by Science Alert.
In fact, the snake’s strange configuration was simply attributed to Monty growing an extra eye socket in the middle of its skull.
“The snake is peculiar as an X-ray revealed it was not two separate heads forged together, rather it appeared to be one skull with an additional eye socket and three functioning eyes,” the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife explained in a Facebook post.
Aside from being one too many, the creature’s bonus eye was vertically oriented, which gave Monty an even more memorable, eerie look – as seen in the photos below, posted to social media by the rangers who stumbled upon the three-eyed snake.
“It is extremely unlikely that this is from environmental factors and is almost certainly a natural occurrence as malformed reptiles are relatively common,” the Australian rangers detailed in their Facebook entry.
Incredibly enough, despite its peculiarities, the snake’s third eye was perfectly functional, which suggests that Monty’s deformity may have enabled it to enjoy some extraordinary sights.
While this unusual find is certainly one for the record books, Monty is sadly no longer around to bask in the glory of its uniqueness. The three-eyed slitherer passed away last week, reports IFL Science.
“It’s remarkable it was able to survive so long in the wild with its deformity, and he was struggling to feed before he died last week,” Ray Chatto, one of the rangers at Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife, told NT News.
The body of the three-eyed snake has been donated to science and is currently housed at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Darwin.